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The Saltwater Review - 26 May 2004

Vol. 18, No. 4
by Lewis S. Gillingham

Chincoteague | Wachapreague | Cape Charles | Onancock | Lower Bay/CBBT | Middle Bay | Virginia Beach Virginia Piers | Outer Banks, NC


Due to the observance of Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, the Virginia Saltwater Review will not be published the week of 31 May- 4 June.

Virginia's Trophy Striped Bass season opened May 1 and runs through June 15.  This special season carries a 32-inch minimum size limit coupled with a one-fish bag limit. From May 1 through May 16, anglers may possess one-fish, 32 inches or greater.   From May 16 through June 15, anglers are allowed to possess two striped bass within the 18 and 28-inch slot, but one fish of the two-fish allowed during the May 16 through June 15 slot season may be 32 inches or greater.  Most important, anglers must report their Trophy catch (all 32-inch or greater fish caught and kept between 1 May and 15 June) on forms available at all Citation Weigh Stations, many other tackle shops and marinas.  

Since the end of last year, regulations for black sea bass and summer flounder have been modified.

For black sea bass, the minimum size limit remains 12 inches while the possession limit remains 25 fish but the late summer closed period runs from September 8 through September 21.  The winter-closed period remains December 1 through December 31.

For Summer Flounder, the minimum size and possession limit have both changed.  The minimum size limit decreased from 17-1/2 inches to 17 inches in 2004.  The possession limit likewise decreased, from 8 flounder last season to 6 summer flounder in 2004.

Huge spadefish are holding at their typical haunts (Cell, Wolftrap Light, Third and Fourth islands and the Tower Reef) but seem to become finicky when faced with large weekend crowds of anglers.  The majority of the citation fish are typically caught in May and June.

Black drum still linger off Cape Charles but pods of these huge bottom feeders are becoming increasingly common around the islands of the CBBT.  Red drum remain available on the shoals off Fishermen's Island and several of the southern-most barrier islands.

Chincoteague -

Barnacle Bill's reported excellent weekend action on flounder weighing as much as 9 pounds, "just about anywhere," and suggested Four Mouths, Queens Sound and its nearby flats as the top choices.  Most anglers are opting to use either live bull minnows or frozen shiners for bait.  Large grey trout also made a substantial showing, as trout topping ten pounds were caught on chunks of fresh peeler crab.  Outside the inlet, the black sea bass bite on the inshore wrecks slowed and anglers theorized the slow action was due to the rapid rise in water temperature the past week.  

Donna from Captain Bob's suggested the buoy 4/5 area (Four Mouths) as the best bet for keeper flounder and added that bluefish, croaker, dogfish and pan trout were also available in the same area.  Most anglers are using a strip of squid and adding a live minnow for bait and focusing on the first of outgoing tide.

Wachapreague -

Wachapreague Marina reported the flounder bite improved in recent days, as charters claimed as many as 18 keeper flatfish in an outing.  The LUCKY DAWG and NITA-DREAM wreckfished on Saturday and both had good catches of black sea bass.  A private boat fished offshore and returned with a pair of gaffer dolphin but no tuna have been reported yet.  

Captain Zed's weighed-in a 29-inch, 15-pound tautog for Chuck Riddleberger.  The catch was made on an offshore wreck aboard CAPTAIN RON'S CHARTERS.  Inshore, the shop indicated the best recent catches of flounder were made on the flats adjacent to Green and Drawing channels.  Some pan trout were caught in the channel in front of the Coast Guard Station.

Cape Charles

Chris' Bait and Tackle reported the black drum bite slowed "a little" the past week but the shop still registered over 30 citations.  Most were caught bottom fishing with clam for bait at either buoy 13 or 16.  The shop also registered over a dozen red drum release awards the past week.  Most of these fish were caught on the shoals that surround Fishermen's Island.  Two citation flounder were weighed-in and both came from the seaside.  Ron Heylizer boated a 7-pound flounder out of Oyster and Christian Early landed a 7 pounder at Machipungo Inlet.  Steven Temple released a 23-1/8-inch tog at the Fourth Island, where anglers casting near the rocks caught school stripers.  Folks fishing the Kiptopeke State Park Pier managed some croaker, pan trout and flounder.

Onancock -

Captain Wil Laaksonen at Fish and Finn Charters described the bottom fishing as "great" with plenty of large croaker up to 19 inches.  Catches include reasonable numbers of spot in the 8 to 10-inch range, some bluefish, silver perch, hogfish, blowfish, pan trout and flounder.  Anglers fishing around the Target Ships in the evening are catching striped bass.

Lower Bay/Bridge Tunnel -

Cobbs Marina reported weekend catches included flounder, black drum, croaker, grey trout, spadefish and tautog.  Bruce Frazier, Jr. (48 inches) and Jason Stokes (48 inches) both caught and released big black drum on artificials at the CBBT.  They were aboard the private boat SEAWEED.  Michael Finnigan nailed a 7-1/4-pound flounder at the ODU Reef site.

Bubba's Marina said flounder were not plentiful but several large flatfish were boated recently at the First and Second islands, where tautog were still being caught on chunks of crab or live fiddler crab.  Schools of black drum have arrived at the CBBT and are most often holding near the rock islands.  Spadefish are also available at the CBBT but are more abundant at the Tower Reef.

Dr. Jim Wright boated and released citation red drum just off Fishermen's Island, while fishing aboard the charter boat BUCCANEER.  Schools of taylor blues and pan trout are holding around the 12 MP of the CBBT while striped bass were easy marks at the Third Island.

Wallace's Marina said the spring spadefish bite was in full swing.  Jorj Head boated the week's biggest, an 11-pounder, at the Cell while Robert Williams nailed a 10-pound, 10-ounce fish at the Chesapeake Light Tower.  The flounder bite is improving slowly with best weekend hauls made at the Hump, Bluefish Rock, Third and Fourth islands and the High Rise section of the CBBT.  Black drum are still available in the buoy 13 area, where Chris Hall (52 inches) and Miles Hamrick (46 inches) earned release awards last week. But more drum are showing around the CBBT, where Robert Vaughn (47 inches), Stephen Wightman (49 inches), Carlin Thomas, Sr. (51 inches) and Carlin Thomas, Jr. (52 inches) all released big black drum last week.  The shop also indicated red drum were biting after sunset, just east of the High Rise section of the CBBT while schools of pan trout were holding near the 12 MP of the CBBT.

Sunset Marina said Jerry Hux and family fished around the First Island of the CBBT and boated a limit of striped bass to 32 inches and flounder to over 6 pounds.  Tom Delbridge boated and released a 46-inch black drum at the Fourth Island.  Frank Kearney and crew ran out to the Chesapeake Light and limited-out on spadefish to 8 pounds.  Closer to the marina, Paul and Cindy Delvin managed keeper flounder weighing as much as 6 pounds at Hampton Bar.  Swanson Hornsby took a limit of striped bass to 24 inches at the HRBT, where Earnest Charity boated a pair of sheepshead to 6 pounds and ten puppy drum.  Don Carter filled a cooler with nice croaker weighing as much as 2 pounds at the M & M crossing.

Cindy at Salt Ponds Marina said Tracy Jones boated and released a 52 and 58-inch black drum while trolling near the CBBT.  Some spadefish are showing around the northern section of the CBBT but better concentrations of fish are located at the Tower Reef.  Customers fishing near the entrance to Salt Ponds caught a mixture of panfish over the weekend, including croaker, trout and flounder.

Jimmy Lewis from A & S Feed and Bait Supply said the top catch of the week was turned-in by brothers Dameon and Brian Gross.  Dameon boated citation grey trout of 9-3/4 pounds and 10 pounds and 6 ounces while Brian decked trout weighing 9 pounds, 1 ounce, 9-1/2 pounds and 9 pounds, 10 ounces plus a 10-pound, 6-ounce spadefish.  The pair fished the Cell Saturday evening.  The same structure produced a 31-inch trout release award for Allan Hall.     Robert Manus caught and released a 46-1/2-inch black drum at the CBBT and Neil Drumbeller boated a 10-3/4-pound flounder at the Baltimore Channel.  Good-sized croaker remain abundant above the Coleman Bridge, where Robert McCumbe nailed a 3-pounder, 2-ouncer.  Jimmy added that fair numbers of spot were caught around the mouth of Sarah's Creek.

Members of the Peninsula Anglers Club say black drum still linger in the buoy 13 and 16 areas but more drum are showing with each passing day around the CBBT rock islands.  Schools of large red drum are cruising the shoals at the mouth of the Bay and the seaside Barrier Islands.  Large grey trout are holding around the Cell and the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT while schools of pan trout are located at the 12 MP of the CBBT.  Jorj Head and Steve Powell fished a mid-Bay wreck on Sunday and boated four large trout to 29-1/2 inches and spadefish to 11 pounds.  Two days earlier the same location yielded trout ranging from 29-1/2 inches to 33 inches.  Dave Moss and Charles Southall fished around the Third and Fourth islands of the CBBT for trout on Sunday but hungry striped bass gobbled their offerings before the trout.  Ken Neill tried trolling spoons along Nautilus Shoals for red drum on Sunday, the crew hooked seven drum and boated and released reds of 46 and 47 inches.

Virginia Middle Bay

Roger Wilkins from Jetts Hardware reported plenty of school stripers are holding along the channel edges near buoy 62 and this has become a favored location for chummers.  Most parties are able to quickly catch their limit and often drift this same area for croaker.  Some flounder are showing around the Little Wicomico Jetty and Roger heard of some trout showing up inside the Potomac River.  

Smith Point Marina indicated the charter fleet were all returning with quick limits of striped bass up to 28 inches.  Some boats are still trolling to locate a few large fish but most of the fleet has started chumming.

Jerry Thrash from Queen's Creek Outfitters said the waters just east of the Cell held the best concentration of big croaker.  Largest checked-in the past week measured 19 inches, weighed 3-1/4 pounds and was caught by Jeffery Snow.  School stripers are holding around Stingray and Windmill Point lights and around grassy points in the vicinity of the Hole-in-the-Wall.  Big grey trout and large spadefish are available at the Cell.  Jerry West of Glenns caught a citation trout (9 pounds, 3 ounces) and spadefish (9 pounds, 9 ounces) at the Cell on Saturday.  Janet Lawson of Blackstone caught a pair of 10-pound spadefish at Wolftrap Light, where Marion Jones (11 pounds, 3 ounces) of Buffalo Jax and Michael Hanhart (9 pounds, 2 ounces) of Hopewell also landed citation spadefish.

Locklies Marina said folks at the marina enjoyed a good week of fishing.  Gilbert Smith caught a 12-inch, 17-ounce spot and fishing partner Carlton Crawley boated a 12-1/2-inch, 17-ounce spot near the White Stone Bridge.  Ernst Mooney landed a 33-1/2-inch, 11-pound, 5-ounce grey trout on a small piece of clam while fishing the Cell for spadefish.  The party also had several nice spadefish.  Croaker remain plentiful in the river and Parrots Island was the top location, where David Spiers landed the week's only citation croaker at 3 pounds, 3 ounces.

Garretts Marina said bottom fishermen were catching loads of big croaker to over 2 pounds with a few weighing nearly 3 pounds.  The buoy 19 area has been the most productive and most anglers are using bloodworm or squid for bait.

Captain Jim Thompson from Deltaville said some of the best bottom fishing for large croaker was "inside the Cell, right at buoy 40A," but added that schools of good-sized croaker were also showing off Gwynn Island at the Middle Grounds.  Nighttime anglers working jigs tipped with peeler crab are catching large grey trout at the Cell, where the flounder bite is improving.  Inside the Rappahannock River, Butlers Hole and Sturgeon Bar are producing croaker and a few spot.

Virginia Beach -

The Virginia Beach Fishing Center reported chopper bluefish in the 8 to 12 pound range remain off Virginia Beach but the "true" offshore fishery is just getting underway.  The charter boat O-FOUR returned with one of the first bluewater catches of the season last week-consisting of several gaffer dolphin and a pair of 20-pound class yellowfin tuna.  The headboat fleet worked the lower Bay for pan trout and croaker, as wreckfishing for black sea bass remains uncharacteristically slow for this time of the season.

Paula Owen from Fisherman's Wharf Marina  said boats that have fished inshore the past week have either fished the ocean lumps for chopper bluefish or worked the CBBT for striped bass.  One boat fished offshore last weekend, trolled the Triple 0's area and managed a pair of gaffer dolphin.  "The ocean waters are heating up and we should have some tuna here soon.  Several boats are going offshore this weekend (Memorial Day)."

Virginia Piers -

Grandview -Closed indefinitely.

Buckroe Beach - The pier was completely destroyed by hurricane Isabel. The city of Hampton has expressed an interest to build a pier in this area.

Harrison - Closed indefinitely.

Lynnhaven - There was a good run of large spot and sea mullet Saturday evening with a few pan trout caught after dark.  Sea mullet dominated the action Sunday.  Skates are fairly plentiful.

Virginia Beach - Weekend fishermen enjoyed several good flurries of spot with sea mullet and croaker sporadic action throughout the period.

Sandbridge - Casters working the end of the pier were delighted with the arrival of Spanish mackerel last weekend plus taylor blues were mixed in with the macs.  Bottom fishermen reported mixed catches of large spot, pan trout and sea mullet.

Outer Banks, NC -

Beach fishermen working from Kitty Hawk to Nags Head recorded fair catches of taylor blues, spot and sea mullet over the weekend.  The Avalon Pier reported catches of bluefish, sea mullet, Spanish mackerel, spot, trout and even a keeper-sized striper and a false albacore over the weekend, as surf water fluctuated from 68 degrees (Friday) to 60 degrees (Monday).

South of Oregon Inlet, beach fishermen working Cape Point at Buxton beached a pair of cobia on Friday and the largest weighed 68 pounds.  For casters, taylor blues provided most of the action but a few Spanish mackerel were mixed in with the blues.  On Saturday, scattered catches of sea mullet were made throughout the day and a dozen or more large red drum were beached after sundown.  On Sunday the fishing was "slow" with only a handful of pan trout and small flounder reported.  At least four large red drum were beached about 2 AM.

The Oregon Inlet Fishing Center reported decent catches of yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin on Friday.  Inshore boats caught cobia weighing as much as 91 pounds, released red drum in excess of 3-feet in length and had good numbers of taylor bluefish and Spanish mackerel.  On Saturday, 35 boats fished offshore and recorded very good catches of yellowfin tuna, plenty of gaffer dolphin and several wahoo.  Inshore boats reported cobia, Spanish mackerel and taylor bluefish.  On Sunday, yellowfin tuna weighing up to 83 pounds hit the dock when the fleet returned but gaffer dolphin dominated the catches.  The headboat had mixed catches of trout, croaker and bluefish during the same three-day period.

The fleet sailing from Hatteras Inlet reported good catches of gaffer dolphin plus some yellowfin tuna and wahoo on Friday.  Miller Truseel of Roanoke boated a citation 44-pound wahoo aboard the HATTERAS BLUE.  On Saturday, gaffer dolphin dominated the catches but a scattering wahoo, king mackerel and tuna were also part of the day's catch.  Both the CAP'N B and TUNA DUCK released a blue marlin.  Sunday produced good catches of gaffer dolphin and wahoo and a few yellowfin tuna.

If you have additional information or would like further details contact Lewis Gillingham at (757) 247-2243.

Please credit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's THE SALTWATER REVIEW as the source of the fishing information.   Project is funded by NOAA and VMRC.

Click on Newsletter link to get to the index of previous Saltwater Reviews

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